Updated: Sep 29, 2019
This is my last Florence-themed blog post! I thought I would end the series with a review on the activity I found the most fun. Hopefully you decide to add this to your bucket list.
On a hot Tuesday morning, my sister and I made our way to a quaint apartment in the heart of Florence, where we would be welcomed by a bubbly, smiley woman named Laurence. We walked up a few flights of stairs to get to it (those who are concerned about accessibility, please bear this in mind) and were pleased to be given still and sparkling water made by her very own carbonator upon entering.
There were six students, including my sister and I, in the class. We were each given an apron to wear and Laurence showed us the two places we could wash our hands in the apartment. I was happy to see that we were in a very clean and tidy environment.
Laurence talked us through the history of the two dishes we were about to cook: Tortellini and Tagliatelle. She also gave us a bit of background about herself. She was extremely diligent. She remembered that I told her that I couldn't eat dairy and ensured that all utensils used for the foods containing dairy and my own dairy-free portion of food were separated.
There is something very therapeutic about cooking with others. One of us was chopping onions (me - I was unlucky), another was peeling potatoes ... we had an excellent flow going. Laurence encouraged us to taste as we went along; after all, we would be the ones eating it all.
Now for the actual making of the pasta. Such a process is not for those with poor coordination and concentration. Laurence taught us about the necessity of understanding the texture of the dough we used. Over time, dough may get tougher because of the presence of the gluten and this dough may not be suitable for all pasta types. There was a method to everything. We used the same dough for both the tortellini and tagliatelle, but by the time we got round the making the tagliatelle, the dough had hardened which was apparently perfect.
The pasta making machine was not as difficult to use as I anticipated. Attaining the right thickness for each pasta type was simple because all we had to do was change the dial on the machine, and voila.
We all sat down to eat the meal we all had participated in making, and I was blown away by the flavours and textures of the pasta. My dairy-free tortellini lacked nothing - I followed Laurence's suggestion to add chopped courgettes to the filling. The chopped courgettes over the tortellini were so creamy and tender; the tortellini was firm and flavourful.
After eating the tortellini, we were served our tagliatelle with tomato ragu. The tomato ragu was so moreish! My sister and I had seconds (unapologetically). I've never had tagliatelle like that before. The flat-ish strands were a lot thicker than I am used to, and had more bite than I was used to also, but I think the texture is an aspect of the pasta that one can easily adjust to fit their preferences.
To follow the mains, we indulged in Laurence's homemade cantuccini with Vin Santo, a spicy Tuscan desert wine. Laurence was kind enough to substitute the traditionally used butter for an egg yolk to accommodate me. Did I have about 5 or 6 of these? That is nobody's business.
I honestly have nothing bad to say about this experience. All of the guests were warm (though even if they were not, this couldn't be a reflection on Laurence at all), the apartment was fit for purpose and Laurence was a great host. She was knowledgeable, patient and made us all feel comfortable in her home. She even sent us some recipes for us to use when we reached back home!
I am so happy that I had the chance to experience this. If you are interested in learning how to make your own pasta in Florence, book your space here: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/experiences/178099?c=.pi80.pkbWVzc2FnaW5nL2V4cGVyaWVuY2VzX21lc3NhZ2U%3D&euid=1fb17c1a-ba2a-fb50-12d6-3c4afd20645d